An Episode of Persecution
on Extra Judicial Killings
BY Special Task Force
[see also Nadesan's Last Case -
Paul Nallanayagam Trial, 1986]
Prior to my embarking on my story (in the year 2001), a prologue is necessary.
This was written exactly fifteen years ago in March 1986 and refers to a very tragic and heartrending episode that occurred
in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka in May 1985. I think it is worth publicising it even now because it is very relevant even today. The hard hearted criminals who perpetrated this massacre of innocent young boys of the Eastern Province are still at large and have been continuing to do the same with impunity up to date. None of them have been brought to task over any of these incidents. I am sure that some of the officers of the Special Task Force of the Sri Lankan Police who were responsible for this massacre are in the top rungs of the Service and one of them may even be in charge.
Amnesty International Letter to Sri
Lanka President J.R.Jayawardene, 7 June 1985
"..63 young men
belonging to the Tamil community, in the age group of 18-25 years, were
allegedly arrested and killed in the Batticaloa area between 16 and 18 May 1985,
some of them allegedly after torture. Among these, four young Tamils were
allegedly taken away from the village of Ilupadichenai by Special Task Force
personnel, beaten and taken to Koduwamadu and there shot dead; 23 young men were
reportedly arrested by Special Task Force personnel from the village of
Pdaipattimunai and shot dead.
According to the most detailed report about these allegations which has so
far been published, in The Daily Telegraph, London, 25 May 1985, the 23 young
men were arrested in the village at 5 a.m. on the morning of 17 May 1985 by
Special Task Force commandos, and several others were arrested from nearby
areas. At about 9 a.m. the same morning, six jeeps and a lorry are reported to
have driven between 30 and 40 arrested Tamil men to a lonely beach about 400
yards north of the cemetery of Kalmunai. They were ordered out of the vehicles,
some of them reportedly receiving orders to dig separate graves. According to
this and other reports in the foreign press, Special Task Force personnel lined
up the Tamil men in their custody in front of them and shot them dead. It is
also reported that acid was poured over the faces of the bodies. According to
the The Daily Telegraph report, between six and eight commandos of the Special
Task Force returned to the place of the incident at 5.30 p.m. on 18 May 1985,
dug up the bodies and transported them to Punani in the Batticaloa district,
where they were reportedly cremated by them in secrecy..."
Amnesty International Annual Report, 1986 for
period January to December 1985 -
International was concerned about reports of arbitrary killings of many hundreds of non
combatants by government security forces in northern and eastern Sri Lanka and of many
'disappearances'. Widespread torture of political detainees was reported... The
organisation also remained concerned about long term detention without charge or trial of
many hundreds of Tamils."
During that period of time as President of the Citizens’ Committee for National Harmony (C.C.N.H.) for Kalmunai, I did my best to get an urgent-impartial investigation to be conducted when a massacre of innocent Tamil youths was reported to me.
I kept all the authorities informed including the President and the Minister of National Security. I also gave factual information to the International Media who were in constant touch with me because the organised elimination of the Tamils of Batticaloa by the S.T.F. arming the Muslims and giving them the leadership was in full swing at that time.
... the (Sri Lanka) Government indicted me on seven trumped up charges of spreading false rumours about the S.T.F, spreading lies to the public of Batticaloa and giving false information to the Foreign Media.
What I refer to as “My Story” is what I wrote to be given to
Mr. S. Nadesan Q.C. popularly known as Senator Nadesan as he was in the Senate from its inception till it was wound up. I give it here word to word as it was written in March 1986...
My name is Paul Velupillai Nallanayagam. I was born on the 23rd of February 1925 at the American Mission Hospital at Inuvil and was delivered by Dr. Miss Kurr, a Missionary Doctor resident there. My Father was Mr.S.M Velupillai who was the Head Master of the American Bilingual School at Thellipalai. My Mother, Elizebeth Nallammah Arumugam, is the sister of Mr.J.N. Arumugam who was in the earliest batches of Ceylonese who passed into Ceylon Civil Service. I was the third son in the family of seven boys, the youngest were twins who were born posthumously when my mother was widowed at the age of 30.
Ever since that time my uncle, Mr. Arumugam, was our guardian and benefactor because at that time, the teachers in Missionary schools didn’t have a pension scheme. My uncle saw us through school and university till we were on our feet. He actually rented a house for us in Jaffna town near Jaffna Central College, his old school, where all of us had our school education. I Matriculated from Jaffna Central and went to Jaffna College, Vaddukottai to do my university entrance. I entered the Ceylon University which had the only campus in Colombo at that time.The Vice Chancellor was Sir. Ivor Jennings. I graduated with honours in economics in 1948. I lived with my uncle for one term, while at the university, but later he wanted me to have the experience of university hostel life and therefore got me into Brodie hostel.
I had the privilege of having Prof. J.L.C Rodrigo and Prof. G.C Mendis as my wardens and Prof. P. Gerald Cooraay and Mr. Sam Wijesinghe as my sub-wardens. Among my contemporaries during the time I was there were, Hon’ble Nissanka Wijeratne, Hon’ble T.B. Werapitiya, Mr. V.N. Navaaratnam & Mr. Hugh Molegoda, who is at present the Commissioner General of Inland Revenue.
Soon after my graduation I had the shy at the Ceylon Civil Service examination unsuccessfully and entered Carey College as a teacher. After a teaching career of 3 ½ year, I joined the government service as a Land Development Officer in January 1952. I was absorbed into the Ceylon Administrative Service when Ceylon Civil Service was abolished and a unified administrative service was established. I was one of the Vice Presidents of the C.A.S Association and the other was Mr.Newton Samarasinghe, who is at present the Sri Lankan Ambassador in China. Our association was responsible for negotiating the 3 tiered structure in the C.A.S. However, I didn’t stay in the country long enough to enjoy the benefits of this.
When I was Senior Assistant Director of Land Development in 1972, I decided to retire from the government service taking advantage of the minute which provided for any member of the C.A.S. to retire within ten years of the establishment of the unified C.A.S. which was 1.5.73. I retired in August 1972 and migrated to Canada with my family in August 1972. My family composed of myself, my wife and 3 daughters. My reason for retirement was purely the education of my children because under the media-wise standardization, my children may not have been able to enter the university. My wife herself was a graduate of the Madras University and we didn’t want our children to be denied a university education. We lived in Canada for 7 ½ years and saw my children through high school and the university and also took on Canadian Citizenship.
However, in November, 1979, my wife and I decided to come back to the country of our birth and do some socio-religious service if we could, for sometime. As I got back, the Controller of Immigration and Emigration was my old friend, Mr. Newton Samarasinghe. I placed my cards on the table and informed him that we were Canadian citizens, but would like to stay for sometime and do some socio-religious service, which will not involve employment of any considerable salary. I asked for his advice whether I should revert to Sri Lankan Citizenship or hold my Canadian Citizenship. He advised me that Canadian citizenship was much more valuable and that I could stay ,on a resident visa as long as I wanted to and return to my children when we decide so, and in the meantime do some work as referred to earlier.
He asked me to write to him when I have fixed on something and obtain his permission to do the work. When we arrived, my sister-in-law, Revd.Malar Chinniah was then doing Methodist missionary work at Kalmunai and we also found out that the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka had advertised for a couple who could take on the wardenship of the Methodist Orpahnage at Kalmuanai which had nearly a hundred children and the biggest orphanage in the Methodist Church. So all the friends and fellow-christians in Kalmunai where we decided to spend our holiday , persuaded us to apply for this position as we would be ideally suited for this, where I had administrative experience and my wife had dealings with children both here and in Canada, having done a course in child-psychology and usually was involved in nursery teaching. We prayed over this and decided to send in our application. The Board of the orphanage decided to select us and the President of the Methodist Church was very happy to appoint us to this position. So my wife and I took over the position of Co-wardens of the Methodist Girls home in
Kalmunai from February 1980 and we continued to do this work till May 1985.
When the ethnic issue took a turn for the worse after
July 1983 and especially
the Citizens’ Committees for National Harmony (C.C.N.H.) were organized in several places. The first to be organized in the East was in Batticaloa and Trincomalee and I was a founder member of Batticaloa C.C.N.H. MrPrince Casinader was the Secretary of the Batticaloa Committee and he and I used to regularly attend the monthly consultations of all citizens’ committees which used to be held at the Marga Institute in Colombo.
The then Minister for Defense Hon’ble Lalith Athulathmudali was also often invited to participate in this meeting and we brought the problem we had in various areas to him at this meeting. When this ethic problem escalated and became more intense even in Kalmuani, the people of Kalmuani decided to form a branch of the C.C.N.H. in Kalmuani too, and they persuaded me to take up the presidentship of this committee because of my knowledge of all the languages and my background through which I knew many people.Although they were aware that I was not a citizen of Sri Lanka, they said that it was only my residentship in Kalmunai that mattered. I then agreed to take this on.
The work of the committee consisted mainly of looking after the interest of the people of Kalmunai and establishing peace and harmony in the area. When young Tamil men or boys were arrested by the government armed forces, the parents would rush down to me to lodge their complaints about the
problem. I then telephone the Special Task Force Camps at Kaluvanchikudi and Kalladdy,and also the coordinating officer in Batticaloa to find out the
where abouts, of these boys and give letters to the parents addressed to the O.I.C of the camp where the boys are, to permit them to see the boys and handover parcels of food and clothes to them.
Very often we found the Special Task Force (STF) which consisted of the police commandos,
arrested young men from villages in a mass and harrassed them from the time they were arrested. We had complained about this to Hon'ble Lalith Athulathmuthali and he said that he would instruct the
S.T.F. officers and the Co-ordinators to be more responsible and obtain more information through their intelligence sources before they make arrests.
In April 1985. after the alleged murder of three Muslims by the militants or terrorists in a mosque, the
Muslim-Tamil riots started in Batticaloa. The first real holocaust was in the village of Karaitheevu which is only 3 miles away from
Kalmunai. This happened on 12th, 13th & 14th of April 1985. On the 15th morning, the
C.C.N.H. of Kalmunai along with a few members of the CCNH of Batticaloa decided to visit the refugee camps in
Karaitheevu. There were no vehicles available to get to this place because the buses were not running and the mini-bus and the private hiring cars were also not prepared to go as they had to pass through
Muslim areas to get to
Karaitheevu, especially the village of Sandamarudu. The people of this village were the ones who were the most violent of the people who attacked
However, my sister-in-law, Rev. Malar Chinniah who has a Mitsubishi van promised to come to
Kalmunai. Along with another missionary attached to Pilimatalawa who happened to be in Batticaloa at this time. His name is Revd.Peter
Pillinger, She was also prepared to visit the Karaitheevu refugee camp along with the
CCNH, of Kalmunai. So the two of them and myself, Mr.Rex Joseph, Vice President of the
Kalmunai, CCNH, Mr.Gopan Kandiah - Attorney-at-law, Jt secretary of the CCNH,
Kalmunai, Mr. S.T.Rajadurai, the other Secretary of the Kalmunai, CCNH, Mr.K.S.Arulrajah - President of the
Y.M.C.A. Kalmunai, Mr. Weerasingham, a specialist science teacher who was Secretary of the YMCA
Mr.Ariyam, Treasurer of the YMCA Kalmunai and one or two others went in the van to Karaitheevu and visited the victims of the holocaust who were staying in three refugee camps which were government schools in the village and not damaged by the people who had attacked the village. We spread ourselves out and visisted the three camps and each one of this team questioned about 10/15 people to find out exactly what happened. This was really a fact finding mission and in the process of this questioning we were able to speak to a good section of the refugees in the three camps. This would have covered at least 200 of them, but we found there were nearly 10,000 refugees in three camps. We did not know the exact position when we set out to visit these camps. We thought there may have been 500 refugees and had taken a few dry rations and some clothes. But , we found out that this was grossly insufficient.
The village of Karaitheevu surrounded at all sides by Muslim villages consisted entirely of Tamil people of middle class and upper middle class composition and few cultivators and fishermen. The total population of this village was only 10,500 people and there were about 1,250 homes. We were able to find out that there were at least 10,000 rendered refugees and about 1,200 homes had been completely looted and burnt and some were bombed out and completely brought to the ground. On our way back, we could not get back on the main road as there was a big mob at Sandamarudu which would not let us pass and we had to take a devious route through the Amparai road and get back to Kalmunai covering about 10 miles, whereas the direct route was only 3 miles. On the way back we asked each other what information they were able to obtain. Every one of them told the same story.
They said that the STF of the police commandos had gone in their vehicles and as they went to the homes of the Karaitheevu people triggered some shots in the air and chased them away from their homes and 1000s of
Muslims some of whom had arms entered the homes, looted all the things and later threw petrol or kerosene and burnt the houses.
We visited the camps on the 15th morning and the holocaust on this village had gone on till the 14th night. The people had just run for their lives to these schools and took shelter and stayed where they were. They didn't have any time to get together to perpetrate a fraud or tell a false story that the
S.T.F. gave the leadership. We had no reason to think that the story we heard was nothing but the truth.
As President of the Kalmunai CCNH Idecided to inform about this to the Colombo CCNH so that they could take this up with the authorities and bring redress to the victims and prevent further escalation of this into the residents of the Amparai district and Batticaloa district. As the President of the Colombo
CCNH, Rev. Hevapola Ratnasara, the Vice President, Godf ray Gunatillake and the Secretary,
Revd. Father Tissa Balasuriya were out of the country.
I spoke to one of the Vice Presidents, Mrs. Bernadeen Silva and told her about all these things that have happened in
Karaitheevu. She asked me to send a written report on this because nobody in Colombo appears to know the facts about this incident. I didn't have the time to sit down and write a report and it was really on the 21st of April that I was able to get a repport typed out and sent to Mrs. Bernadeen Silva. I read this report out to all those who came along with me to Karaitheevu on the 15th morning and they were all in full agreement with my report as to the facts and information contained in the report.
Even before this report was sent out, I telephoned Hon'ble Athulath Mudali and informed him that with the connivance of the
STF, the Muslims who also had arms had caused extensive damage to the Tamil villages of
Karitheevu. I suggested that the STF should be confined to their camps and the arms of the
Muslims should be withdrawn. He said that there may be some truth about the
Muslims having arms because at the request of the Muslim MPs that the terrorists were
harassing them and demanding money, they should be issued arms for self protection, but he denied the fact that the STF were involved in any way in this. I asked him whether he had visited and spoken to the victims of
Karaitheevu, he said that he had not done this but verified in every other way and was fully satisfied that STF was not involved in this holocaust at
On the 17th of April there was a top level conference at the Ampparai Kachcheri presided over by the Honourable
D.W. Devanayagam, Hon'ble Rajadurai, Mrs. Ranganayaki Pathmanathan, the Distrct Minister for Batticaloa, District Minister of Amparai and the local MPs of the area were present at this conference. The conference was called to discuss and decide how best to rehabilitate the victims in
Karaitheevu, all government servants of the area and a few numbers of non-governmental organisations were present at this conference.
Everybody mentioned that it was a communal clash between the Tamils and Muslims that occur every so often. But, I got up and said that this time it was not the usual communal clash, or a border skirmish as happened year in and year out when they have a problem over water distribution in the
paddy fields or on fishing rights and the Muslims and Tamils clash. Then the only thing that happens is when a Muslim person comes on the road through the Karaitheevu village, he may be
attacked or when a Karaitheevu villager passes on the road through the Sandamarudu villager he may be attacked and it goes on for 3 to 4 days till some Muslim and Tamil leaders with the assistance of the local police bring this under control. But, this time, the
Muslims had gone in their 1000s into the village and looted and burnt the homes almost on a pattern of July 1983 in Colombo. This was due to two important reasons for which the government has to take
the issue of arms to the Muslims when all arms from the Tamils had been taken away.
the connivance of the Special Task Force.
When I mentioned this the entire conference got a terrible shock because practically everybody there knew these to be true but wouldn't talk about it. After I mentioned this, others got up and said that the STF should be confined to their camps and all arms of Muslims should be withdrawn; but the defence given by the District Minister for Amparai that the STF cannot be confined to their camps
because they were the only effective deterrent to the terrorists and regarding the issue of arms should not be confused with the Karaitheevu incident, because Muslim mudalalis and cultivators were issued arms for self protection against the terrorists and not to attack the Tamil civilians.
Any way after the conference I had to visit the camps again with the representatives from Leeds (aid giving organisation of the
Christian churches) who had brought some relief to be issued to the Karaitheevu victims. When we were there the ministerial party also visited the camp and they came to the biggest camp where there were more than 5000 refugees and they told the ministerial party of the facts which tallied with what I had said and mentioned in my report later on 21/4/85. After this the ministers were convinced of the facts.
But no action was taken by the government and troubles spread into Akkarapattu and later to
Manchenthoduwai, Nawatkuda, Araipattu, Kkiran, Eravur. Chenkalladdi,
Vandarmullai, Kalkuda, Valechenai and Oddumamavedi in the Batticaloa district.
At the height of the trouble, there were 65, 000 refugees in both the districts. 45,000 in Batticaloa and 20,000 in
Ampari, of whom only about 5000 were Muslims and the balance were Tamils and the same pattern has been followed in all these places. i.e. the leadership of the STF and the guns with the Muslims.
The trouble went on unabated with slight improvement now and then till about the middle of May. The
C.T.B. buses were not running on most routes, private transport was available in small measure, but the vehicles were running on devious routes avoiding the Muslim strong holds like,
Kathankudi, Eravur, Oddumavedi in the Batticaloa district and Sandamaradu, Addalechenai and Akkarapattu in the Amparai district.
As mentioned earlier, my duties as the president of the CCNH was to look after interests of the people of the place whilst maintaining peace and harmony among the communities. It was also my duty to channel correct information about the happenings in the area to the media. After this holocaust at
Karaitheevu, several correspondents both local and foreign came to visit the refugee camps at Karaitheevu and invariably they dropped in at my place in Kalmunai to get the background of these problems. I used to give them correct information as known to me.
After I did the report addressed to Mrs. Bernadeen Silva dated 21.4.85, I passed on one or two copies of these also to these reporters, but as to how they reported these stories or in what papers these appeared were not known to me because I had not received copies of any of these newspapers. The local media people including the Daily News Editor was also in touch with me on the phone and I gave him the correct information.
From this time most of these reporters kept in touch with me as the problems in the East went for a very long time and correct information was not readily available through the local newspapers. This is how I came to be in touch with the foreign reporters and representatives of various newspapers of foreign lands.
On the 17th of May 1985 in the morning at about 9:30 a.m., a few parents from Natpittimunai - a village in the out skirts of Kalmunai came and complained to me that theilr children were arrested by the STF from Kalavanchikudi early in the morning between 6 - 6:30a.m., some were while in bed and others were washing their faces. This was a Friday and I informed the parents that it was too early to inquire from the STF camps as they may not have gone back yet. Saturday and Sunday were intervening, so I asked them to come back on Monday morning at 9:30 and I would phone the STF camps and the
Co-ordinating officer, Mr.Piyasena and inquire about the boys, so they went away.
In the evening, more parents from Natpittimunai came back and told me that they had information that all the 23 boys arrested at Natpittmunai along with the few others arrested at Neelavanai and Thurai Neelavanai had been taken to the Thambiluvil cemetery and were shot and buried. They also had information that 8 men were lined up near a tank bund on the road to Thurai Neelavanai and shot and their bodies were taken along with the other men in 5 STF vehicles to Thambiluvil. There the men alive were asked to cut a few trenches and bury the dead. Thereafter the men who cut the trenches were also shot and buried in the trenches and the vehicles got back to Kaluvanchankudi by early evening. When I heard this news I was simply staggered and phoned the C.O Batticaloa, Mr.Piyasena but failed to get him. I phoned the CCNH Colombo and contacted the President, Rev.Hevan Pola Ratnasara, another Executive Vice President, Godfrey Gunetillake with the hope that they wil bring to the notice of the top authorities in Colombo and order an investigation and prevent further repetitions of this nature. I informed the parents that I could not get the police authorities, but I would get them the following morning and asked them to come and see me in the morning.
On Saturday morning, the 18th of May'85, I phoned the C.O. Batticaloa, Mr.Piyasena and informed him about this. He said that it cannot be true and he also informed me that he co-ordinates the STF work in a very loose kind of way for certain functions, but he didn't control them nor give them directions or orders. However, he said that he lives in the STF camp premises at Kallady and that he had heard a number of boys arrested at Natpittimunai and other villages near Kalmunai the previous day, were brought to the Kallady camp as there were no room in the Kalavanchikudi camp. He said, if I could with some of the other parents come to Kalledy camp, I could see them. I informed him that I had the list of the 23 boys arrested at Natpittmunai and if he gets hold of the/boys who have been brought there, we could compare them on the telephone, because travelling 25 miles at that time was not so easy.
He said that the list was not with him, but that he would contact ASP
Illengakone of the STF and he could get it from him and have it handy with him by 12:00noon and if I telephone him then, we could compare the names. I said that it was fine and thanked him. This was about 10:00a.m. and shortly after that Mr. Velmuruhu, the Ex D.D.C. member of the area telephoned me to tell me about this gruesome business. I told him of the action I have
already taken, but he informed me that the parents were desperate and simply unconsolable and suggested we go to Batticaloa with some of the parents and meet the C.O. personally.
However, he said that they would not go unless I went with them as none of them were prepared to go into Kallady camp. I said that it was perfectly okay by me and we would leave immediately after an early lunch. Accordingly we left in a car
that Mr. Velmuruhu had brought, my wife too join us as she wanted to visit her sister Revd.Malar Chinniah at Kottemunai. We got to Batticaloa by 2:15p.m. and I said that we cannot go to Kallady camp with out a prior appointment by phone. So we proceeded straight to Revd. Malar Chinniah's residence and telephoned Mr. Piyasena to say that I was in Batticaloa already with a few parents and
I wanted to come and see him. He was just having lunch and he was talking with food in his mouth. I said that I will wait till he has had his lunch and ready to see me, but he said, unfortunately he had to proceed at 3:00p.m. to Amparai by helicopter on a very urgent inspection and it is going to be very tight to fit me in. I said that he must give me atleast a few minutes because we had come all the way from Kalmunai hiring out a car.
So he asked me to meet him at 2:50 p.m. at the C.I.D's office which I did and he had absolutely no time to go through the list. All the same he was very decent and told me that I can go to the camp and meet ASP - Illengakone who will have all the information and that he would phone him to expect me. He also regretted the fact that he could not give me sometime but if I was unable to sort this out with ASP - Illengakone. He asked me to see him at 9:30 a.m. the following morning though it was a Sunday and he would give me sufficient time to discuss this. I thanked him profusely and we proceeded to the Kallady camp.
Thereafter all the formality of communication between the sentry and the A.S.P. on the walkie-talkies etc., I was asked to advance with my hands up which I managed with difficulty as I was carrying a brief case also with me. I was sent in with an armed escort and I met the ASP-Illengakone. He was in a small cubicle all by himself and he asked me to sit down on a chair in front of him and inquired what the problem was. I told him the whole story and all the information I had and gave him the list of 23 names of the boys arrested at Natpittimunai the previous day early in the
morning. He asked me to hand over the list to him and he walked out of the room with the list.
I am not one who is generally nervous about many things, but at that time I was beginning to have fears. I was all-alone in that cubicle. This had a window with a curtain fluttering in the window and one door leading our. I could see lots of men in uniform walking about with all kinds of sophisticated arms. One chap came and peeped into the room twice and made no conversation. Anybody could have taken a puttshot at me and nobody could have been the wiser and there was absolutely no evidence. I didn't want my imaginations to run riot, but offered a silent prayer and I had the assurance that I had come on a worthwhile and perfectly altruistic mission and God will look after me. Mr.Illengekone returned after 15 minutes and returned the list come and said that it is very difficult to check with names as the detainees were in the habit of giving false names most of the time.
He said they were releasing about 18 boys in about 1/2hrs time and some of them may be the boys I am interested in and he suggested I leave the parents out side to identify them and take them to their homes and that I could go off. I said that we have all come together and I will also wait with them outside and meet the
bus. We waited outside the gates of them camp till the boys came out and none of them were from Napittimunai. Then I phoned Illengakone- A.S.P., from outside the camp and informed the position. He then said they were releasing 20 boys the following morning and the boys we need may be among them.
I thanked him and said that I will not trouble him any more as the C.O. Piyasena had promised to see me the following morning at 9:30a.m. and devote any length of time to sort this problem. We went back to Revd. Malar Chinniah's place and I sent the parents, Mr. Velmuruhu and my wife back to Lalmunai and I stayed the night over in Batticaloa at my sister-in-law's place.
In the night I got information from 3or 4 soures by phone that after the STF had left Thambiluvil cemetery area accomplishing their nefarious mission, the Tamil militants have gone there and unearthed all the bodies and took photographs of all the faces and buried them back and the information was that there were 40 bodies.
On Saturday morning again they are supposed to have shot and buried another 19 boys making a total of 59 murders, but some how on after thought they had come back with 5or 7 vhicles just as it was getting dark and stationed two vehicles on the road on either side of this spot to stop vehicles proceeding. They had exhumed the bodies again and wrapped them up in polythene bags and transported back all the way to Kalvanchikudi and burnt them with old tyres placing over them somewhere in the vicinity of their camp. This operation has been done between 6-9:00p.m. and the people in Kalmunai had seen vehicles passing the town and had got the smell of putrid and decomposing flesh.
At 9:30a.m. on May 19th, Sunday I met C.O. Piyasena at his residencein Kallady camp and gave him all the information I had. I gave him my list of the 23 boys arrested from Natpittimunai. I also told him that I am not concerned about the 59 boys, I don't have their names nor did I know any thing more about them, but I am only concerned about the 23 boys whose
names I had and those parents have seen me and told me positively that they were taken in by the commandos of Kalvanchikuddy from their homes between 6-6:30a.m on Friday the 17th of May.
If I can see these boys or if they can be produced to me by the C.O., or if he can give positive information about their whereabouts, so that I can go with the parents and see them. I will be satisfied and I will tell all the parents who have been giving me all these information that they are really spreading false rumours and warn them severly. The Co-ordinator then took me along to the cell where all the detainees were and this he did even without reference to Mr. Illengakone. This was some thing that had never been done before. The Co-ordinator took me into his confidence and treated me as a man of responsibility and being the president of the CCNH of Kalmunai had the interests and concern of the people at heart. I must say truthfully that all the boys whom I saw in the cells were looking well and had no injuries on them. I do not know whether there were any other cells where they kept the bad cases.
I addressed the boys and asked them whether there were any from Natpittimunai and there was no respnse. Then I told them that I will read out a list of names and if any of them were there they should respond to us putting up their hands and I will tick off their names in my list. I went through the list of 23 names and not one of them was there. Then I asked C.O.Piyasena what he has to say about this. He said that it looks rather disturbing and he asked me what I wanted him to do. So I told him I would want him to institute and investigation immediately, after all it was a mass murder of so many boys. They were not even questioned, but bumped off with in a few hours of being arrested and no autopsy or inquest of any kind has been done. He agreed with me and asked me to give
a written complaint to him.
From there we went to the ASP Illengekone's office. There was a photocopier there and they asked me for a copy of my list of the 23 boys taken. Keeping the photocopy with me, I made and endorsement on the original to the C.O., stating that the above mentioned boys had been arrested on the 17th morning from their homes in Natpittimunai and the information I had through their parents and others is that they had been shot and buried near the Thambiluvil cemetary immediately after. I have been trying to locate them through the C.O. and STF officers and had spent 1½ days and failed. So I shall be thankful if you could order an immediate investigation into this. He took this and informed me that the S.P., C.I.D. - Sumith Liyanage-would be returning from Colombo in a little while and he would ask him to carry out immediate investigation
I was very happy about the Coordinating officer's attitude and his decision to take up the investigation immediately. I got back to Revd. Malar Chinniah's place having informed the parents that the investigation will start immediately and it looked as if the information we had was correct. I got back to Kalmunai in the evening. I had a call from S.P . Sumith Liyanege saying he will commence investigation in the morning at 9:00a.m and asked me to come with the parents of the boys.
On Monday the 20th morning, we hired out two mini-buses and left Kalmunai at 7:30 a.m. Mr.Kumaralingm, an Attorney at Kalmunai came in one vehicle with the parents and I went with the other parents in the other vehicle. We were at the C.I.D.'s office in Batticaloa at 9:00 a.m. Investigations started promptly. The S.P.(CID) Sumith Liyanege recorded my statement and other officers recorded the statement of the parents and these were over by about 1:30p.m. Nobody went out to lunch. We had some sandwiches in the office itself, sent by my sister-in-law, Revd. Malar Chinniah.
The S.P. then told me that he didn't want even me to go out because he doesn't want anybody to know what we were going to do next. He asked me to select five male parents of the missing boys and asked them to stay behind and sent all the others back to their homes along with the Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Kumaralingam. He asked me to tell the selected men that he wants to question them further. He only told me what his actual plan of action was. He said we will proceed straight to the Thambiluvil cemetery and check on the bodies according to our information. He didn't want to take even a police van, but he hired out a private mini-bus. Including the driver and the cleaner, the people who went in it were the S.P. and my self, three of his officers and the five fathers of the missing boys. We drove non stop to the Akkarapattu police station where two jeeps with officers joined us. One was a mobile team C.I.D. officers with an Inspector of Police in charge and the other was Akkrapattu police officers. We drove right to the Thambiluvil cemetery.
There we got off and all the police officers got their guns out and they were in alert position in case some militants came to attack. We went into the cemetery premises and looked around, but found no trace of new excavation of trenches or wheel marks or anything else indicating the action we have heard of. We were all very disappointed thinking it was all a wild goose chase after we had done a good search of the area. The S.P. asked me what I would suggest we do next. I told him that we cannot just go back like that after all the trouble we had taken. I suggested that we go into the Thambiluvil village which would be another half a mile south and enquire there.
He told me that the idea was good, but if anybody is going to do it, it has to be me. They were terribly scared because this was one of the worst hide-outs of hard core militants and if they get the word of the fact that they were police officers they would have absolutely no chance. I said it was fine by me and along with one of the parents I walked to the village. On the way I met two CTB buses coming from the South and stopped them and spoke to the drivers and the conductors. I knew that most of the information about all these things did come from drivers and conductors of buses that plied that route. I introduced myself as the President of the CCNH Kalmunai and said that on my complaint a C.I.D. team had come to investigate into the mass murder of the Tamil boys by the STF on the 17th/18th and we are unable to locate the exact spot.
They told me that it was really about 200 yards north of the cemetery and on the sea side, but best thing to do was to elicit the help of all the villagers who will take us to the exact spot and if they bring mammoties they can even excavate the pits. So we went and collected some villagers who were very enthusiastic about the mission. The S.P. has been worried about the time and he told me that we have to be out of Thambiluvil before 6:00 p.m.. It was 4:30 p.m. when we went to the village. So to expedite matters I asked the villagers to come there with mammoties also and I borrowed a bicycle from one of them and rode back to the S.P. and told him that the villagers were on the way and they know the spot, so with them we went to the actual spot where this mass execution has been perpetrated on these innocent lads.
We saw the traces of 4 to 5 trenches newly dug and now covered. We saw heavy vehicle tire marks in the sand right up to the trenches. We also picked up a green theda rope, thinned out and broken at the ends. The big trenches were covered up and were empty. The men tried excavating and found them empty. We went further and tried one to two smaller trenches and in one of them they came across a decomposed body. When this happened the time was getting on to 5:30 p.m. At the same time near another trench we found two sarongs and blood stained shirt and in the pocket of the shirt there was a national identity card. The S.P. took it out and wrote the name. It happened to be one of the names on my list of 23 boys and strangely the father of that boy was one of the five who had come with us. I thought then, that truth was stranger than fiction
I called the man he then came up to me and identified the sarong and shirt as the son's and the identity card as belonging to him. He then broke down and wailed and performed part of the Hindu funeral ritual of taking three hand full of earth and throwing it into the nearest trench where his son would have been murdered and buried. It was only then it was fully confirmed that the boys had in fact been murdered and buried and probably subsequently burnt. As hope springs eternal in the human breast, the men had been still hoping against hope that their boys were still safe some where and had not been murdered.
He begged the S.P. to hand over the identity card of him as that was the only photo he had. The S.P. told him that this would be an important production in the case and it can be given to him after the case was over. Then the S.P. told me that there were two options open to us regarding the body -One, was to get a big box or even a mat and get the body packed into that and taken to the nearest hospital mortuary to be left there for the night; and get an autopsy ordered by the Magistrate by the next morning. The other was to cover it up again and submit a report to the Magistrate the following morning and ask for an order for exhumation and inquest.
For the first option, the time was running out and we didn't have a box or mat. I told him that he is the Inquiry Officer and that he can decide what is best. So it was decided to cover the trench. In the meantime he had got two villagers to wash the sarongs and shirts in the sea and rinse to be taken along with the identity card and the piece of theda rope. It was beginning to get dark, so we thanked the villagers and got into our vehicles and pushed off.
We went straight to the Akkaraputtu Police Station, where the S.P. said he would instruct the O.I.C. to organize more patrols in the Thambiluvil area and then we pushed on to Kalmunai. The S.P. told it will be good if we can meet the District Medical Officer - Kalmunai and advise him to be available on the 21st morning for the autopsy and the order would come from the Magistrate. So I suggested that we both go and see him before he drops me at the Girls' home.
Accordingly we went to the District Medical Officer's bungalow at about 7:00 p.m., but he and his wife were out. So the Superintendent of Police asked me to inform him about this on the telephone later in the night which I did. Actually the District Medical Officer himself telephoned as soon as I returned home because the watcher had informed him that a Police Officer and I had dropped in to see him. I told him of what happened that day and asked him to be available the following morning for an inquest besides the trench near the Thambiluvil cemetery.
When I got back home at about 7:15 p.m., I informed my wife that the inquiry was proceeding very satisfactorily, but that I cannot discuss in details as my lips are sealed till the inquiry is concluded. I asked her to answer all telephone calls herself and meet any visitor and not send them on to me till I know who they are as I didn't want the embarrassment of people asking me what is happening and my not being able to tell them. Most people don't understand this kind of secrecy and the necessity to observe this. Further, if there were any calls from Colombo, I asked her to put them on to me.
There were one or two calls from foreign reporters from Colombo and I gave them a factual report of the information I had about the missing boys and also informed them that the C.I.D. was now investigating into this; and I being the complainant was a very material witness in the investigations which are in progress, and so my lips are sealed about the investigation itself, but I also told them that I was very satisfied with the prompt action taken by the Coordinating Officer to order the investigation and the way it was expeditiously carried out by the S.P. (CID). This was the identical information I gave the President and the Executive Vice President of the Colombo CCNH - Revd. Hevanpola Ratnasara Thero and Mr. Godfrey Gunatillake when I called them in the night. The following morning that was, 21st May, I had told my wife that I was staying in the house quietly and I am not going to entertain any visitors other than somebody from the C.I.D. I would also avoid local calls. I was expecting to hear about the order for exhumation and inquest by 9:30 a.m. or so.
The following morning that was, 21st May, I had told my wife that I was staying in the house quietly and I am not going to entertain any visitors other than somebody from the C.I.D. I would also avoid local calls. I was expecting to hear about the order for exhumation and inquest by 9:30 a.m. or so. Nothing happened till 10:00a.m. when the DMO - Kalmunai, Dr. Salakianathan telephoned me and asked me whether I had heard anything from the C.I.D., I told him that I hadn't. He said he had heard nothing from the Magistrate or the CID, but he had information that a Special Task Force Commando (STF) jeep had been coming from the South and heading towards Kalavanchikudi and the people had got the strong smell of decomposed human flesh; and so he thought the body may have been spirited away.
Anyway he thought that he will hold on till 11:00a.m. as he has to go to a funeral of a relative. Subsequently I had a call from S.P. (CID), Sumith Liyanege who informed me that he had an anonymous phone call in the morning advising him not to go to Thambiluvil as the place has been mined. He said that the voice sounded like a Tamil person speaking in Sinhalese as he could make out from the accent. He said that though previously he had ventured out on this investigation, he was now very nervous and thought it would be suicidal to go there with or without a court order.
He suggested whether I could get some people to go there and dig up and bring the body to the surface and send a message to him by telephone and then he would arrange to come by helicopter to the spot with a Magistrate and a Doctor from Batticaloa.
I told him that I was surprised at his suggestion, if he thought of that with all sophisticated arms and the Police Department and the Government behind him, he is scared to go there, how does he expect a private party to brave it.
They have no arms and they will face the danger of being gunned-down both by the STF and perhaps the Militants too. I also informed him about the spiriting away of the body by the STF according to some information received that definitely settled for him. Then at lunch time, the I.P.(CID) who was in charge of the Mobile CID party that had accopanied us from Akkarapattu Police Station the previous day to visit Thambiluvil arrived and asked me to give him a statement about further developments after the previous night.
I gave it to him mentioning what I have heard from the telephone calls from the DMO and the SP(CID). He showed the reports they had prepared to be submitted to the Kalmunai Magistrate asking for an exhumation order and inquest and the letter addressed to the DMO, Kalmunai for the Magistrate's signature regarding the inquest. But he told that they were not using them as the SP(CID) has not given the green light. With that he went off and nothing happened for the rest of the day. I was in my quarters at the Methodist Girls Home, Kalmunai the whole of this day.
On the 22nd of May, I was still confined to the house. This was a self imposed house arrest to avoid discussing with people about the investigation. A few people came to see me in the morning including 3 foreign reporters - 2 from the Associated Press and one from Lamonde. I gave them the same information as the information I gave the previous night to some reporters both foreign and local and the CCNH Colombo. The Editor of the Daily News also called me on the 21st night.
At about 3:45p.m., the ASP - K. Malcom Krusz along with 3 other Policemen had called at the main entrance of the Girls Home. I asked the Matron to send them over to my quarters. As they came, the ASP told me that the C.O. - Piyasena had asked him to bring me to Batticaloa. My wife was with me all the time the police party was there. He didn't say anything else. So I thought it must be in connection with the investigation. So I told I will get ready and come.They were all seated in the outer verandah and my wife served them biscuits and tea, while I went to change as it was tea time.
The ASP never mentioned that he was arresting me or taking me in to custody. If he had mentioned that even my Christian spirit could not have extended to entertain him then. I would have been very official with them. As it was I didn't even take a night change of a strong and banian. I took my brief case with the CCNH file and a few other papers. I had forgotten to take my wallet in the rush and my wife ran up to the vehicle and gave it to me saying that I will need it for the bus fare back. I was completely in the belief that the co-ordinating officer wanted me to be brought with police escort as we had to pass the STF camp at Kalvanchikudi on our way. If he had announced that he was arresting me, there would have been pandemonium in the Girls Home.
There are 75 children who look up to me and my wife as (Father and Mother) and they would have been shouting and screaming that I have been arrested by the Police. But, as it was they came out and waved to me as I was going away in the van. I was taken straight to the Kallady camp of the STF which is just a mile out of the Batticaloa town. The C.O. - Mr. Piyasena is resident in that camp. The AS.P - K.M.Krusz went to the office there while the rest of us were in the van and telephoned Piyasena. He had expressed surprise in me being brought there and asked Mr.Krusz to take me to the Police station in Batticaloa and hand me over to H.Q.I - Krishnadasan. The ASP - Krusz ran back to the van and told me this and asked the driver to proceed to the Police station. At this stage I began to suspect that I was not brought into in connection with any inquiry or investigation regarding the missing boys, but that I was being taken into custody. But what reason I was being taken into custody I had not even the faintest idea.
I was chatting to Mr. Krusz all the way from Kalmunai to Batticaloa about various things, but he never mentioned about me being taken into custody. However, after this I didn't speak to him till we reached the Batticaloa Police Station and he told the HQI - Krishnadasn that he was handing me over to him. Having said this ASP - Krusz promptly got back to the van and went off. Then I asked HQI - Krishnadasan whom I knew very well, what was happening and what this was all about. He told me that he didn't know the reason, but under the orders of C.O., I have been taken into custody. This really came as a rude shock to me. Krishnadasan was kind enough to allow me to telephone my sister-in-law, Revd. Malar Chinniah and I told her that I have been brought into Batticaloa Police Station and I am in custody.
My wife had already telephoned from Kalmunai that I was coming with the Kalmunai police to Batticaloa probably in connection with the investigation. When I told her this, my S.I.L. got a shock too. I asked her to kindly bring me a sarong and banian as I generally leave a change of clothes at her house in Batticaloa. I also asked her to bring some dinner for me. She immediately phoned my wife, the Bishop of Batticaloa, the Government Agent, Prince Casinader and many other friends of mine and members of the CCNH Batticaloa about this. I asked Mr.Krishnadasan where he was hoping to put me up for the night. He said "I can have you out some where in the office, but for your own safety I thought of putting you into a cell" because the
majority of the Constables there were Sinhalese and absolutely uneducated, uncultured and unscrupulous fellows.
In the evenings they go out after duty and get drunk and when they come back to the station to get to their quarters, they could and abuse detainees in the cells and if they get a chance assault them also. So Mr. Krishnadasan's advice to put me in the cell was for this reason. If they see me outside they won't know any thing about me, but since I am a Tamil, they will think that I am the Tiger Chief and might assault me or even lynch me. Action will follow after this, but any action after the event would be too late. So the wiser thing is to prevent a calamity like that he said.
So I left it to his discretion, but one thing I simply loathed was to go into one of the cells in the Batticaloa police station not even for an hour, not to speak of a night. I think the Batticaloa police cells are about the worst in the Island for the simple reason that they are always impossibly over crowded. One has to see them to believe it and I am one of those who has seen enough of the Batticaloa police cells. I came over to visit some of our boys in detention there. There are about 5 to 6 cells 12' x 6' and each of these about 12/15 sq.ft are used up by a toilet and in the rest of the area any thing between 10 to 20 boys are
detained. Some of them are there for months at a stretch. They remain standing most of the time and in the night hours they take turns to get a few winks of sleep.
An Episode of Persecution - My Story (Part VII)
by Paul Nallanayagam
Another function of the CCNH was to channel factual information to the media in times of extra ordinary happenings like this. This covered both local and foreign media. Many press reporters both local and foreign visited the Karaitheevu refugee camps and invariably they dropped in to see me to get a clear picture about these incidents. I gave them the exact position as in my report of 21/04/1985. Again since I was the only member of the CCNH Kalmunai who had a telephone in the house, many reporters also telephoned me and I gave this information. I only did my duty as expected of a person in my position.
During the period of this race riots and the reign of terror by the Special Task Force (STF), I did contact Hon'ble Lalith Athulathmudali, the Ministers and District Ministers of the Eastern Province, the IGP, the Government Agents of Batticaloa and Amparai with the sole intention of obtaining release and redress to the suffering innocent Tamil civilians of the Province. This is not the way of a person who wants to spread false rumours and false information and bring the Government to disrepute. If Hon'ble Lalith Athulathmudali or the other top level authorities whom I contacted had taken my information seriously and taken action to withdraw the arms issue to Muslims and confine the STF to their camps for 3 to 4 weeks, they would have saved all the damage to property or loss of life in the rest of Batticaloa.
At the height of the trouble there were 65,000 refugees in the Batticaloa and Amparai districts - 45,000 in Batticaloa and 20,000 in Amparai. Of these only about 5,000 were Muslims and the balance Tamils. There would have been hundreds of people at the Amparai conference of 17.04. 1985 who knew these facts, but nobody would speak. Similarly the missing boys of Natpittimunai and the murder and disposal of nearly 59 boys near the Thambiluvil cemetery. Thousands would have known because it was really the talk of the town, but nobody would speak. I took on the responsibity myself to bring the facts to the relevant people and I have been arrested and humiliated.
I can now understand why people don't want to talk or commit themselves to matters like this and endanger themselves. However, I don't regret this as I think it was my Christian duty to do this, especially being in the position that I occupy. Several have done this before me and are still continuing to do this even if it means martyrdom for Christ. The Old Testament Prophets did this and then apostles after that and latterly the foreign church leaders of Asia, Africa and South America. Humble though I am, I am in great company in my suffering and the prayer of all my loved ones, friends and fellow Christians all over the world have been upholding me. I know this because I have kept myself perfectly healthy and cheerful during the long period of suffering in the Police cell.
The inquiry by the I.P. was over on the 24th evening. he was very kind and considerate toward me. ordered tea for me every two hours and ordered lunch at 12 noon. the inquiry was concluded by about 4:30 p.m. and he said that there would be another short inquiry by the ASP which he called a confessionery statement. He said it was not convenient for them to have me in the 4th floor, so they were sending me to the Police Station. He also told me that
although it was Friday and the next day the 25th was Saturday, the ASP has promised to come on the 25th as a favour to finish my inquiry. So after that they will decide where they will hold me. So I was brought at about 5:00 p.m. on 24.5.85 to Slave Island Police Station. Mr. Livera told me that he will instruct the who was taking me to the Police to speak to the OIC to arrange for a mat and pillow to be supplied to me.
But the P.C. from the CID never made any such request and after he left me the with the Reserve Seargent on duty asked me to take off my day clothes and get into my sarong and thery took over my glasses, wristwatch, and wallet and put every thing into my brief case along with my trouser and shirt. Mercifully they left me to keep my vest because all others coming into the cell are not even allowed a vest or banian. Anyway, I feebly put it to the Reverse Sergent that the IP/CID has told me that I will be provided with a mat and pillow.
He laughed aloud and said "what mat and pillow, do you think that this is a hotel?" Anyway as a great concession, he left me to take two sheets of newspapers that were in my attaché case and said that I could spread them on the cement slab and sleep and since I was left to retain the banian, it was not so bad.
The confessionary statement was not taken up on the 25th as expected, but on Monday the 27th, and the report to the Attorney-General was sent on the same day. However, I was kept in custody at the S/Island Police Station for 66 days but no action was being taken to indict. I retained Counsel to take up matters with the C.I.D. and the Attorney-General. He brought in an action of Infringement of Fundamental Rights in the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, this could not be concluded as expected because one of the Judges in the panel fell ill and another one out of the country went for some conference and the case had to be postponed by over a month.
On the 26th of July, the CID officers produced me before the Magistrate in charge of the Fort Magistrate's Court and remanded me at the magazine prison. I was here for 56 days. So in all my incarceration was for a period of 122 days. In the meantime, my Counsel brought in a 2nd case of Infringement of Fundamental Rights. This case too was heard by the same panel of Judges and judgement was reserved on both these cases.
When my first Fundamental Rights Case was being delayed, my Counsel interviewed the Judges, who were available, out of the panel along with the Attorney-General's Counsel and requested that I be indicted immediately in the Batticaloa High Court, as the Attorney-General's Counsel has mentioned in the Courts, during his submission that the Attorney-General had signed my indictment. This was done accordingly and my indictment was sent to the Batticaloa High Court by the end of July.
However, the Court Vacation intervened and the High Court Judge of Batticaloa ordered the S.P. of the Magazine Prison to produce me at the Batticaloa High Court; on the 26th of August to be served with my indictment. The prison authorities didn't take me due to security reasons. Another date was given, two weeks after this on the 6th of September to be produced in Batticaloa. I was not taken there again. The 3rd day. It was the 24th of September, but in the meantime, probably through some communication between the High Court Judge of Batticaloa and the Attorney-General, it was decided to transfer my Indictment to the Colombo High Court and serve it on me on the 24th of September.
I was produced before the High Court Judge, Mr. Sarath Gunewardene and granted Bail on this day. I had to surrender my passport and pay Rs.20,000.00 in cash as the conditions of the Bail. I reported at the Kollupitiya Police Station on a 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month between 9.00 a.m. and 10.00 a.m. My High Court Case was fixed to be heard on the 8th of January, 1986.
Addendum to my story
At the first consultation of all Citizens' Committees held at the Marga Institute in Colombo, Mr. Prince Casinader and I represented the Batticaloa Citizens' Committee. There all the visiting members were asked to give their impressions of the situations in their areas.
I made a general remark that one good thing the President had done was to pick out a real good man to take on high responsibility regarding the ethnic problem. I said, I had very great respect for the Hon'ble Athulathmudali. He was a very intelligent young man, a great Scholar who had a very good high-school and university records. He was Secretary and later the President of the Oxford Union. He had been a good practicing Lawyer and a Teacher of Law in several prestigious Law Schools all over the world, but one mistake that was made was making him the Minister of National Security; He should really have been made a Minister for the Negotiated Settlement of the Ethnic problem of Sri Lanka. He should have been given a free hand in negotiating a settlement with everybody including the Tamil Nadu leaders, the Indian Central Government, the TULF and even the Militants.
He would have been able to do a good job and probably brought about a settlement. Instead there have been so much blood-shed and damage to Government and Private properties ever since the appointment of the Minister for National Security was made. The Hon'ble Lalith Athulathmudali was also present towards the latter part of the meeting, but he didn't make any comment regarding my remarks.
When there was serious communal tension and damage to property, even to the
University at Vantharamulla, the Hon'ble Lalith Athulathmudali visited the area
along with Hon'ble H.W. Devanayagam.
After he visited Vantharamulla, he granted an interview to the Citizens
Committee of Batticaloa and Kalmunai at the Kalkuda rest-house. There I
mentioned to him that within recent times of his visit, the policy of the S.T.F.
appear to have been to arrest young people en-mass. I mentioned the incident
that happened at Thurai Neelavani, where two people were shot while fishing in a
boat and all the Males in the village between 17 - 30 have been arrested by the
S.T.F. When this happened a Methodist Christian from that village came to me and
complained about this.. Rev. Soma Perera, the President of the Methodist Church
of Sri Lanka happened to be on a visit to his Church area in Kalmunai. So I
informed him also of the situation and both of us along with Revd. Malar
Chinniah visited the village and saw and personally questioned eyewitnesses of
the shooting and later the two of us visited the D.I.G. Police of Batticaloa and
Revd. Soma Perera complained to him of what he had seen and heard. So I gave
this as an incident. I was quite sure of because I myself had visited, the
Minister and asked him whether it was really necessary to have this mass arrest.
He informed me that he himself was originally very unhappy about this mass
arrest, but later he had to condone with this because the people of this area
did not come out with any information to the S.T.F. to enable them to arrest
only the hard-core Terrorists or Militants. So I informed him, even if this
could not be avoided, the S.T.F. can at least desist from torturing the boys
whom they arrest from the moment they are arrested. They can question them and
ascertain to what degree they are involved before anything else is done.
Minister agreed with me and he said, not only should they not be tortured the
moment they are arrested, but not even after because that is not part of the
duties of the S.T.F. He will issue instructions and see that this is not done. I
also informed him about the problem of the parents of the boys who are arrested
not being informed of the arrests for days and even months together about their
whereabouts. I asked him whether it is not possible for the S.T.F. to give a
detailed list of the boys who were arrested to the C.O. and also to the G.A. of
the district giving us the whereabouts, so that the parents will know where
their children are and could either visit them if possible with meals and
clothes and if this was not possible at least they will know where the children
are. He promised to take prompt action on this and thereafter some lists were
sent to the C.O. and the G.A.s, but it was found the lists were not complete.
At the conference at Amparai on 17.4.1985, I had mentioned that the
difficulties this time was the issue of guns to the Muslims and the support and
the leadership of the S.T.F., that caused so much of damage to the Karaitheevu
village. At the conference itself, the Hon'ble H.W. Devenayagam tried to silence
me, but it so happened that I was with some other visitors at the refugee camps
at Karaitheevu when the Ministerial team came to visit the refugee camps.
they were told the whole story by the actual victims and after that I went to
Hon'ble H.W. Devenayagam and told him in Tamil, whether he is satisfied now of
the veracity of what I mentioned at the conference. He replied to me in Tamil -
"Aiyo, Nallanayagam, I know this for certain that the pattern was this and
this is nothing new, the same thing happened at Vantharamulla and I am aware of
this ,but how could I discuss this at a conference at the Amparai Kachcheri."
So I told him, if he could not do that Sir, At least bring all the facts to the
notice of President and the Minister of National Security and see that the
innocent Tamils of the Eastern Province do not suffer much more. He replied that
it was exactly what he was going to do when he gets back to Colombo. He even
mentioned that on the loud speaker to nearly 5000 refugees who were at this
meeting, but unfortunately the actions that followed were not in keeping with
what he thought and decided to do on that day.
One night between the 15th and 17th I had a telephone call from a person in
Oluvil at about 9.30 in the night informing me that there were some STF officers
in their jeeps, along with several Muslims who had come into that village and
had started settling fire to the Tamil homes. He asked me whether I could do
anything about it. I said that nothing else that I could do at this time, except
to bring to the notice of the Police. Accordingly I telephoned the C.O./S.P. Mr.
Piyasena and also the A.S.P. Kalmunai, Mr. Malcom Krusz that I had this
information on the telephone and whether they could kindly have this checked out
and if there was any truth in it, prevent further damage being done to Tamil
homes in Oluvil. Later I knew that a few homes were burnt in the village of
Oluvil, but I am not aware of the details. This could be obtained through the
Citizens Committee of Kalmunai by writing to them now.